Dr N D Mani
Head, Dept. of Rural Development
Gandhigram Rural Institute – Deemed University
Gandhigram – 624 302, Tamil Nadu, India
Government officials work at different levels, and take location/area specific decisions related to rural development. Decision making in rural development is difficult if the level of planning happens to be at the sub-state levels i.e. district and block levels. Because, the decisions have to be taken in tune with the ground realities and also the requirements of the user i.e. local people should be considered. In India, such types of decisions are taken with inadequate data available with the government offices.
The data required for taking area/ location specific decision needs spatial treatment of data (i.e. presentation of data in maps) available with the government departments. The erstwhile conventional methods of preparing maps were cumbersome, time consuming, costly and above all maps have to be redrawn for each and every decision. In addition, the data available in different departments are obsolete, and also not a single source will comprise all the required data.
Geographical Information System (GIS) was introduced in India in the late 80’s. It is now being used as a mapping and analytical tool in different disciplines. Gandhigram Rural Institute a Deemed University, is taking the fruits of higher education to rural areas. The academic programmes offered by the Institute are rural oriented; research projects aim at alleviating the miseries of the people living in rural areas and extension component helps the people / government officials to tide over their problems.
As one of the extension projects, the Department of Rural Development has carried out a project on GIS for Vedasandur Panchayat Union in Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu State in India. The GIS has been created with 84 layers in IDRISI and it has been designed with the aim of assisting the government officials, elected representatives and NGOs in decision making related to area/ location specific decisions. In the light of the experience gained in designing a GIS for a Panchayat Union, another GIS has been designed for Athoor Block with the use of Geo Media – Pro software. The present paperthrows light on issues in establishing a GIS for decetralised planning and suggest measures to overcome these problems.